Most providers specifically forbid sub-contracting your work assignment to another mystery shopper in your service agreement. This includes friends, family members, and even spouses. However, some mystery shoppers have found some wiggle room in this area, whether by a gray area in the assignment requirements or simply by necessity.
The Gray Area. Some assignments require that you bring along friends or family members on the assignment. This is most commonly found with restaurant assignments, but it can also be found with amusement park assignments, hotel assignments, and a variety of other assignments. Reading through the report questions on these assignments, you may find questions that ask you to rate the quality of service, the quality of food, and so forth, of all parties present. The gray area comes into play when you ask yourself if you should taste all of the dishes at the table, or simply go on the feedback of your guests as you question them about their food. Did your friends and family members find all of the rides at the amusement park to be in proper working order and the service of the staff to be friendly and courteous? There is simply no other way to know this information than to question your friends and family members specifically. And by doing this, are you relying on someone other than yourself to provide the information necessary to complete the report. Gray areas such as these are a source of concern for mystery shoppers. The only way to clearly know how your provider views this gray area is to ask him or her for their insight. When in doubt, it is always better to ask.
The Not-So-Gray Area. When mystery shoppers get into a bind, they may find themselves asking a spouse, or a close friend or other family member to help them out and complete the site visit for them without their presence or observations on-site. The vast majority of providers clearly forbid this. If it is determined that you have sub-contracted your assignment out to another party, you may forfeit your pay as well as your ability to complete future assignments for this provider. If you find yourself unable to complete an assignment for any reason, it is far better to let your scheduler know with as much up-front notice as possible and let your scheduler find a suitable replacement.
As mystery shoppers, we all know about the many things that can and do go wrong on mystery shopping assignments, as well as all of the details you must keep track of. Something as simple as forgetting a name or getting the time wrong can lead to big issues for you when you submit the report. Or you may be confronted by an angry store manager, interrogated by suspicious store staff or even other shoppers at the store, or any number of other things. As a trained mystery shopper, you know how to handle these situations far better than your unknowing friends and family members. You are much safer (and ethical) as a mystery shopper when you avoid the risk of sub-contracting and complete your own assignments.